Team Behavior

Several interrelated principles are important for stimulating effective team behavior.

  • Team thinking: Members need to know how to function as a team. Training might be required to enhance team problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, conflict management, and creative thinking. Teams fail when the members do not function as a unit.
  • Empowerment: Teams need the authority to make the decisions and act upon the responsibilities they have been given. Teams need to have space to develop their own work procedures and accountability systems. Teams that lack authority are generally less effective.
  • Communication: Team members require information. Traditionally, information has been the domain of management. Many teams fail because management is unwilling to share necessary information with the teams it creates.
  • Rewards: Most organizational rewards systems are individually based. However, to stimulate effective team behaviors, teams should be rewarded as a unit.
  • Size and skills: Generally, teams should be kept as small as possible to complete the team tasks. Larger sizes introduce greater potential for interaction and decision-making problems. However, attention should be given to make sure that team members collectively possess the necessary skills, information, and experience to complete the team assignment.
  • Common purpose: Teams should be given a reason to exist that is embraced by all the team members. Teams fail when members prioritize personal goals over team goals or when teams splinter and pursue different goals.

An organization may have many groups, but not every group of people is a team. Many of the systems principles discussed in Week 1 also apply to teams. For example, teams exhibit wholeness (every member affects and is affected by every other member) and nonsummativity (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts). Additional characteristics of a team include:

  • A team is small enough for members to be aware of each other and have consistent interactions.
  • Members have a sense of belongingness or membership.
  • A team operates by norms and procedures that are accepted by members.

Team members have a mutually interdependent purpose where the success of each is dependent on the others.

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